Thursday, January 31, 2008

The flood

needed Viagra. An inedequate performance, falling short of the predicted 7.8 meters by .4 of a meter.

Though it's probably a good thing. The lagoon now covers a couple of hundred meters more than it did, & is lapping at the bottom of the street.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

think the
cat has Alzheimer's.

The peak

is now predicted to be 7.8 meters

& may come tonight or tomorrow or later tomorrow or......

The lower-lying areas are looking more & more like lakes, the Yeppen flood plain is living up to its name, the water is running into the Yeppen Yeppen lagoon in two streams, the lagoon is filling up & the flow may continue on to the next lagoons that mark what once used to be the path of the river before another much much earlier flood changed it forever, a pipe at one of the sewerage plants has burst under the external water pressure & shit is now flowing into the river, water is still making its way downstream from another tributary, the peak may last for a week.

The frogs are going crazy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

more flood notes

The water level keeps rising, but slower than expected & less than predicted. It has just reached the level designated as a major flood, but it seems that there are major major floods & minor major floods, & this is in the latter category.

The South Side river bank has become a promenade — oh that it could always be this way — drawing people into the city center in a way that I haven’t seen in the five years we’ve been here. In another place, in another time, this stretch would have great potential. It is the longest Heritage-listed street in Australia, of late Colonial / Victorian buildings. Small brass plaques on each give their history, but the downturn in the city's importance has severed all other ties with the past. Now the Rockhampton Club is offices, the ornate Customs House with its glorious cupola is only permanently utilized on the ground floor. The Harbour Master’s office is that in name only. There are no coffee bars, no street stands, no shops. The only restaurants are in hotels.

Though the rate predictions are wrong, the milestones are accurate when they’re met. Look across the river & the water is now up & into the racecourse; from the hill we drive over on the way to the city, we can see in the distance great silvery lakes of water that have developed overnight; to the south of the city areas of water are starting to edge the main highway; the flow is only meters away from joining up with the Yeppen lagoon; I can’t get to see what’s happening to the previously dried up Woolwash – the road is closed because part of it is now under water.

& now that the threat of major property damage no longer seems likely to eventuate, up from out of the murky depths comes the latest potential danger.

"A mass of displaced saltwater crocodiles are headed for flood-hit Rockhampton — and experts are warning they could stay as long as three months.

Rising floodwaters from the Fitzroy River are expected to peak at eight metres on Thursday morning, bringing with them as many as 60 crocodiles from upstream.

“Communities need to be aware that the Fitzroy waters do have crocodiles in them — this flood may flush them out."

“What will be interesting is in a few months when the water recedes and it leaves all these little waterholes and billabongs.

"As these areas start to dry up, the crocodiles will have to start crawling out.""

Monday, January 28, 2008

issue eight of Otoliths is live

Issue eight of Otoliths, the southern summer 2008 issue, has just gone live.

It’s a few days early, but it’s been straining at the leash & seams so it seemed a good idea to let it loose before it ate the house up.

The issue contains, in order of appearance, work by Michele Leggott, Geof Huth, Nicholas Manning, Laurie Price, Sandy McIntosh, Reed Altemus, Alicia Dangereyes, Bill Drennan, gustave morin, Paul Hardacre, Felino Soriano, Pradip Datta, Spencer Selby, Spencer Selby & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, David-Baptiste Chirot, Kristine Ong Muslim, Joshua A Ware, Patrick Gulke, James Sanders, Jill Chan, J. D. Nelson, Eric Burke, Philip Byron Oakes, Louie Crew, Márton Koppány, Thomas Fink & Maya Fink, Richard Kostelanetz, Paul Siegell, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, Sheila E. Murphy & John M. Bennett, Luigino Solamito & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett, Jeff Harrison, John Lowther, Alexander Jorgensen, Martin Edmond, Christopher Major, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Caleb Puckett, Cecelia Chapman, Guy Beining, Vernon Frazer, Bobbi Lurie, harry k stammer, Andrew Topel, Thomas Fink & Andrew Riley Clark.

As usual, it’s a marvellous mix of all sorts of things. Hie thee hither & enjoy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


them going & they get going good.

Spencer Selby & harry k stammer are at it again. Up at harry's blog is a new video by the pair. Video by Spencer, words music & lipsynch by harry. Go team!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Living a Johnny Cash song

The river is rising. Yesterday the flood measuring marker had it at just over 4½ meters, today it’s up over 5. Maybe 3 centimeters an hour. Just breaching the lowest-lying portions of the walking path beside it. Later this evening it should spill over into the riverside carpark I used on a workdaily basis for the last two years.

The river is picking up speed. Ten knots per hour the news reports say, using the nautical terminology that I suppose is appropriate for the event. My maths memory does rough calculations. 11½ mph, 18½ kph. Marathon speed.

It’s full of clumps of weed torn off from banks, torn out from normally stagnant washes. The odd log.

The river is brown. Stirred-up mud, about 20 shades darker than normal.

It’s still just a tourist attraction. Will probably continue to be so. It will cause little damage, maybe close a couple of roads, flood a couple of hundred properties, leave the racecourse under water. The local Australia Day event which was meant to be in the riverside park today was moved to higher ground. Maybe they’ll invite Stevie Wonder to sing the National Anthem.

The car races & the bull-riding competition will still go on. That probably says everything you need to know about the place.

I saw a couple of pelicans out on the river. Very close to the bank. Not handling the flow with their usual elegance; instead bobbing & weaving, but still moving upsteam against the current. Yesterday I saw a boat trying to manouevre its way to a safe haven, starting off by trying to go upstream first before using the current to take it back closer to where it wanted to go. It had a hard job of it. The pelicans didn’t seem to have that amount of difficulty.

I have always thought that the lagoon at the bottom of our street was replenished by the river breaking its banks before reaching the town & coming inland via the airport. I have learnt that it is instead replenished when the flood moves inland once the river has passed the town. That it fills up what is currently an overgrown creek bed beneath a ricketty weight-restricted bridge, then moves through what used to be the Woolwash Lagoon — when we arrived here, a home to a large colony of black swans; now, less than 5 years later dried-up & overgrown with trees & nothing more than the memory of its shape to indicate what it used to be — & then on via the Yeppen floodplain until it reaches the lagoon of the same name. It is surprisingly deep. Though the water area has decreased, it’s always had lots of water in it. & pelicans. But that marker in the diagram below from the Bureau of Meteorology indicating the level at which a flood will lap the Yeppen crossing (only half a kilometer away) means that some ways out may be blocked to us.

The river is supposed to peak on Tuesday at 8.2m. Way below the big ones. It won’t affect us directly, but the supermarket shelves were empty of bread last night, & bottled water & UHT milk are doing a roaring trade. & mosquito repellant, for they are breeding like crazy, & that is probably the most serious aspect to it all, given that the little sharp-pronged insect can be a vector for things like dengue & Q fever.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gilgamesh redux

"Authorities now fear the central Queensland city of Rockhampton could be flooded, as the waters from Emerald and Mackay flow into the Fitzroy River, which flows through Rockhampton.

More than two thirds of the state - about 1.2 million square kilometres or more than the combined areas of NSW and Victoria - has been flood declared.

The bureau expects the already swollen Fitzroy to peak at Rockhampton between 7.7m and 8.2m. In 1918, Rockhampton was isolated after the Fitzroy rose to 10.18m and in 1991 it hit 9.3m.

The SES will open a disaster co-ordination centre in Rockhampton tomorrow."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I prefer my
poets live

in between thing

my heart,
my head in.
Today the
postman brought
me Zeno. I’m
trying to get him
into the house
but we don’t
seem able to
reach it. Some-
what paradoxical.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Titles From Tom Beckett #9

Our Leader’s Love Life

“It’s a kind
of continuity”

said Hillary as
she went down

on a Presidential
Page. “But this

time round

I don’t know
his monicker.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The publisher as matchmaker

harry stammer puts together most of the covers for the Otoliths books. Many are relatively straightforward, but a few require a fair amount of back & forth; & rather than having to work through me, I leave it to harry & the artist.

Spencer Selby’s cover (see yesterday's post below) was quite complex. A beautiful piece by Spencer that required a delicate hand from harry so that the necessary text was clear, but didn’t deface the environment. (& in cases such as this, I regret the need to have barcodes.)

Their collaboration ended up going beyond this single cover. harry is also a musician, & has supplied the soundtrack to a number of vispo videos that Spencer has been posting to YouTube. One of them is embedded; the others are viewable here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Books from Otoliths

Flush Contour
Spencer Selby
84 pages, full color
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-1-6
Otoliths 2008
$24.95 + p&h

Flush Contour is Spencer Selby's fourth collection of visual work, containing 72 vibrant color prints of abstract intermedia art.

“Indeed, in Selby’s case I sense a stubborn refusal to resolve the image that also inflects—or infects—some of his written work, which seems to elide the meaning it nevertheless intends, to construct a syntax that implies a certain result then eludes that result for something that is less authoritative, more evocative. The words that appear and disappear in these works, both type- and hand- written, likewise have a protean quality, they seem to be being made before our eyes from the chaos out of which language does actually come; word strings that are generative in the same way that those strings of recombinant amino acids in the warm pre-Cambrian seas were, we are told, generative: of life itself.” —from the introduction by Martin Edmond, author of Luca Antara.

Place of Uncertainty
Tom Hibbard
92 pages
Cover design by Márton Koppány
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-2-3
Otoliths 2008
$12.95 + p&h

A new collection of poetry from Tom Hibbard who has recently enjoyed getting much of his literary work published on and off-line. Poems, reviews, essays and translations can be found at Jacket, Big Bridge, Word For /Word, Moria, Milk, Fish Drum, Cricket, e•ratio, Otoliths and elsewhere. An essay on “Linear/Nonlinear” was published in the 2007 issue of Big Bridge. Also in 2007 Bronze Skull published a prose poem titled Critique of North American Space. Hibbard lives in Wisconsin, U.S.A., where he devotes his spare time to growing pumpkins.

Poemergency Room
Paul Siegell
116 pages
Cover design by Reed Altemus
ISBN: 978-0-9804541-0-9
Otoliths 2008
$13.45 + p&h

“Something HUGE flexes joy here! This is the suicide by cop where banging cymbals rip the portal open! Poetry is the daily political at every mouthful of Siegell as dots connect dimension to dementia! Tell the funeral director I’d like my coffin lined with these pages, preventing a death of the sleeping! Careful, nutjobs, this is a brother of the Vibratory Order! THANK YOU, Paul Siegell, for making some real live fucking magic for us!” —CAConrad, author of Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006)

Paul Siegell’s are smart, rich poems. Spectacular, defiant iconographs of cells mid-mitosis, a b-boy mid-break dance move, and more. Nine-to-five frustration and transcendence, train rides, road trips, teen tours, rock concerts, and sudden tragedies. Paul Siegell’s poems are full of unexpected significances, each one balanced like a tightrope acrobat always on the edge of ruin. Fluent, aware, visual, wholehearted, Paul Siegell clearly sides with pleasure in the making of poems. Prepare to be challenged, entertained and astounded.” —Jeff Oaks

"Paul Siegell's the most original poet – in sound and sight – to break into print so far this millennium. Siegell owns a megaphone in the contest to be voice of a generation." —Charles McNair , author of Land O' Goshen and Book Editor at Paste Magazine

“I’m always thrilled by Paul’s work, especially when I can understand it!” —Elaine Siegell, Paul’s mom

In addition, parts one & two of the print edition of Otoliths seven, with a great cover from Marko Niemi, are now available at The Otoliths Storefront.

Part one — the b&w & shades of gray part — contains work from Paul Siegell, Sheila E. Murphy, Julian Jason Haladyn, Bill Drennan, Jeff Harrison, Jim Leftwich, Matt Hetherington, Mark Prejsnar, Michael Steven, Geof Huth, Anny Ballardini, dan raphael, derek beaulieu, Raymond Farr, Jordan Stempleman, Vernon Frazer, Mark Cunningham, Randall Brock, Tom Hibbard, Andrew Topel, Andrew Taylor, Anne Heide, Catherine Daly, Karri Kokko, Martin Edmond, John M. Bennett, Lars Palm & David-Baptiste Chirot. 144 pages.

Part two is in full color & contains work from Andrew Topel & John M. Bennett, Robert Gauldie, Marko Niemi, Nigel Long, Matina L. Stamatakis, Nico Vassilakis, John M. Bennett, Jeff Crouch, Eileen R. Tabios, Márton Koppány, Katrinka Moore, John M. Bennett & Friends, Alexander Jorgensen, Daniel f Bradley, harry k stammer & David-Baptiste Chirot. 112 pages.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Titles From Tom Beckett #6

Fourteen Titles

offered in jest
reptilian congress
tyrannosaurus rex
elongated neck
impenetrable recess
perverse request
put into context
what happens next?

stepladder ingress
spectacular effects
premature ejects
unwarranted excess
enervated wrecks
unprotected sex texts

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Titles From Tom Beckett #3

Jean Vengua’s Penguin

The tuxedo was
de rigeur

early Pinoy
in the

United States, trying
to bridge

gap with
what later came

to be nicknamed
the Carnegie

father shuffled
off into Hawaiian

music, bright shirts
& ukeleles,

& tuxes.
Had he, how-

chosen the
dinner-suit route, I’m

sure he would
have stood

the rest
of the band,

would have been
the Emperor

he was
a handsome man.

Titles from Tom Beckett #2

My Body


or Bolly-

T E C H N I C O L o R

there is a
film noir

to break out

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I have always

wanted to start a poem with
The bohemians of the
Uttar Pradesh

It's a phrase that's buzzed around in my head for forty years or more. Don't ask. Just accept we all have our manic moments.

One of these days.....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

q u
a r e
c i r c l e
c i r c l e
c i r c l e


was a bellwether day for me. (First aside: it’s a word I’ve always wanted to use, & this is probably my first opportunity to use it in an unforced context. But I always thought it was “bellweather”, until I checked that I had its meaning correct & discovered it comes from the name given to the lead sheep in a flock, the one that has a bell around its neck, the one the others follow.)

I was going to play around with its component parts. The weather — still muggy, & the first day in a while we’ve had the aircons on — & bell, because yesterday was the day I would have been going back to work if I hadn’t retired, & so, in a sense, it was the bell ringing for the last lap, the last leg of the journey. (Second aside: despite that, I don’t feel I’m on my last legs, though they creak a bit & my left kneecap, my patella — another word I’ve always wanted to use — clicks when I walk so I sound like a deathwatch beetle when I approach.)

Anyway, it felt strange yesterday. There was a silence around me; not really a silence since there was noise but perhaps more of an atmosphere, like being underwater in a divingbell or something. (Third aside: if I had no shame I’d use bathysphere, because it’s another word........)

Whatever it was it was tangible. I managed to pierce its skin by focusing on getting one of my current tasks done, putting together the print editions of issue seven of Otoliths. (Fourth aside: the two parts look fucking great!)

The day was further brightened by the arrival of the postman. Actually, the postman & the parcelman. (Fifth aside; this is a small town. Because the parcelman, a driver for one of the courier companies here, also delivers stuff to (where I used to) work, he thinks I’m an old friend & calls me by my first name. &, since it’s a small town, he just leaves any parcels on the front porch. &, since it’s a small town, nobody steals them.)

The postman brought me Sheila Murphy’s New Year poemcard — eat yr heart out, Hallmark — In the Year 2008 which took five days to get from the U.S. to Australia, & then another five days to reach me from wherever it was re-sorted here. As I often say, where we live is actually beyond the edges of the Earth. (Sixth aside: since Eileen is also on Sheila’s mailing list, you can read the poem here.)

The parcelman brought me my eagerly-awaited contributor’s copy of the Nick Piombino-edited OCHO #14. Lulu went overboard on their packaging for this one. Starting from the inside: the book inside a soft polypropylene (?) open-sided “envelope” which was then shrinkwrapped to a much larger piece of cardboard which fitted snugly into what I can only describe as a pizza box that could probably have contained all the previous copies of OCHO as well. (Seventh aside: you can read Ron Silliman’s review of the issue here.)
In the film, there is no Death and no angel. There can be none. Heurtebise is a young Death serving in one of the numerous sub-orders of Death, and the Princess is no more Death than an air hostess is an angel.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Crying of Lot 46

"Lot 46, Untitled (Plum and Brown), could be an excellent Josef Albers but instead is a rather drab Mark Rothko. It has no particular luminosity or painterliness. The catalogue claims that it "speaks to our deepest and most profound emotions," but perhaps not everyone has deep and profound emotions."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fortyfour degrees of separation (80° in Fahrenheit)

Nick Piombino tells me in an email that the temperature dropped to 12°F in NYC yesterday. That’s cold. I can remember growing up in New Zealand when the temperature dropped below freezing point with some regularity in several of the places where I lived, I can even remember it snowing—very occasionally—but I can’t remember living in that sort of chill, & I can’t remember living in any sort of chill aside from the odd frost for the last fifty years.

Here, when I read his email, it was about 33°C, say 92°F, a summer storm brewing, thunder on two sides, muggy as all hell. But, as is so often the case, the storm passed us by. A little bit of rain, a drop in temperature, a cool wind. But still muggy.

A thousand kilometers north, a thousand kilometers south, it’s a different story. Torrential rain, rivers going crazy. They are areas that have always had rain—the north is monsoon & cyclone territory this time of year, the wet season; & I can remember some years back driving up to Queensland from Sydney along the Pacific Highway & thinking that the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales would be a nice place to live, a thought that lasted all of a month until they were hit by floods—but these are worse than they have been for a long time. Plus, places like the Gold & Sunshine Coasts in the south of Queensland, which have always been a favorite spot for holidaymakers looking to lie on the beach, soak up some sun, go for a swim, have had a metre (forty inches) of rain in three days, the beaches are all closed, the waves are something like ten metres high. & sun? What sun?

Elsewhere in the country there are bushfires. & drought.

Friday, January 04, 2008

except that,

in the post below from yesterday, I've got my Roman numerals fucked up. L, not D, is fifty, so maybe I'll call it IL-luminations......



Thursday, January 03, 2008

editorializing, on a summer's day....

Today it’s Mavis Staple upstairs, the Ry Cooder-produced album of staples from the Staple Singers repertoire, a present nominally for someone else, but in reality......

Have taken time off things editorial to give myself some quality time, finishing off something started a year ago according to the date-stamp on the file. My selected poems —Tom Fink-selected & -introduced— that was to range across half a century; but, since I’m feeling intimations of mortality, there’s now a year shaved off that. Which leads to my current working title, ID —49 in Roman numerals, a land of wizards, an ego stroke. Super! Currently running at about 250+ pages of A4 in manuscript. Plus intro plus contents. Plus some new poetry. Once reformatted, about 400 pages in its final form. A substantial body of work as they say in the trade papers. Let’s hope it’s also seen as a body of substantial work.....

On the editorial side of things, submissions for issue eight of Otoliths close at the end of this month & Otoliths will be bringing out three books later on this month, one visual, two text. I’ll reveal more details closer to the date, but let’s just say they’re all knockouts. Ron Silliman recently commented, in his review of the Nick Piombino-edited Ocho 14, that “Some of the most important sites for American poetry, for example, now take place in Australia...” & I’m arrogant enough to believe that Otoliths is one of those sites.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Its alleles, in comparison

Show Our Lady
of Guadalupe the
house in Virginia
where Stonewall
Jackson's arm is
buried & she will
say what a miraculous
image, then step back
& tease the genitals. It’s
a geno-typical response
to marginal move-
ment that threatens
any blues, folk or
rock duo with
extinction. In war-
time all justice is the
justice of the victors.
The comparisons with
Chaplin are not un-
warranted, but have
we gone too far in
limiting anti-terrorism
in the name of civil
rights? Are we still
barbarians? 500
frog species think so.

In comparison with its alleles

Are we still
barbarians? Have we
gone too far in
limiting civil rights
in the name of anti-
terrorism? Show any
blues, folk or rock
duo the miraculous
image of Our Lady
of Guadalupe & 500
frog species plus the
house in Virginia
where Stonewall
Jackson's arm is buried
are threatened with
extinction. It’s a pheno-
typical response. Justice
in wartime is the
justice of the victors.
We see movement in
the marginals. Step back
& tease the genitals. The
comparisons with Chaplin
are not unwarranted.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

& so,

at 5.30 p.m. in the afternoon, on this first day of the year, I find myself standing in the dining room brandishing a plastic fly-swat, looking for the fly that came in with me from outside, & reciting to myself Goethe’s Der Erlenkönig in the original German.
Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind.
Uh, oh. Looks like it’s going to be one of those years......